Thursday, March 24, 2005

Judicial malpractice

I'm not a lawyer, so I may get some of the terminology wrong in what follows. But in essence, we have trial courts which make findings of fact, and appeals courts which can be used to remedy procedural or legal errors in trial courts or lower appeals courts.

Then there is technology. What is state of the art today is tomorrow's doorstop. Or, in the case of medical technology, what is invariably fatal today is routinely cured or ameliorated tomorrow.

Yet here we have Terri Schiavo trapped in a time warp. The trial court's findings of fact about her condition, however accurate they might have been by the standards of the time, can at least in principle at least become inappropriate in the light of new knowledge. Accordingly, there should be provisions for updating findings of fact or bases for appeal that can take into account this ever-improving technology. (But no, we can't even get her an MRI. Ha, we can't even feed her).

Will Terri Schiavo have to be neglected to death to make this happen? Or shall we ignore improvements in technology that might have occurred in the meantime lest we inconvenience some judges? (After all, they need time to handle all the process for prisoners on Death Row...)

I can't draw for beans, but try this punch line: "Sorry Galileo, but the court has already made the finding of fact that the sun and planets revolve around the earth".

UPDATE: I've had a bad case of fatfingers today, posting things twice instead of saving them as drafts. This post has been modified.

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